I started getting my groceries delivered several months ago, after I realized Amazon Prime Now offered free grocery delivery in my area. I've never looked back.
See Also on Kiplinger: Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco
With two young children, going to the grocery store is a hassle and takes away from time that we could be on playdates or at the park. But aside from the convenience, I've found that grocery delivery has been helping me drastically cut down on my grocery bill. I've been able to trim a couple hundred dollars from my monthly budget simply by ordering groceries online.
While Amazon Prime Now offers free same-day grocery delivery with a $99/year Prime subscription (fresh groceries may or may not be available in your area), there are many other affordable grocery services now available. AmazonFresh offers grocery delivery for an affordable monthly fee ($14.99 per month), and many grocers like Safeway and Whole Foods offer grocery delivery for a small fee per order, or a yearly membership. Safeway's delivery service costs are $9.95 on orders $150 or more, and $12.95 for orders under $150. Whole Foods' service is free for the first order, then $5.99 for one-hour delivery, $3.99 for two-hour delivery, or you can pay an annual membership fee of $99 and get any order over $35 for free.
Often grocery delivery services have coupons offering free delivery for newcomers, which can make it easy to try them out and find which service is most convenient and economical for you. Here's how this modern convenience can improve your budget.
1. Eliminate Impulse Shopping
Cutting down on impulse shopping is hands-down the number one reason I've been saving money on grocery shopping. When I'm shopping from the comfort of my own home, it's so much easier for me to avoid the impulse buys of snacks, chocolates, and other unnecessary treats that I frequently indulge in if I see them at the store. This benefit is multiplied even more when I can avoid stepping into Target or another one of my favorite stores (somehow I'll go there for milk and leave with a cart full of toys, shampoo, clothes, and cookies).
I often shop for just a few staples -- eggs, bananas, bread, milk, and lettuce -- and avoid filling up my cart with impulse purchases. Amazon Fresh does require a minimum total of $40 on deliveries to avoid a $9.99 delivery fee -- it's free over $40 -- but they will sometimes offer free delivery credits on top of Prime orders if you choose free, no-rush shipping. (See also on WiseBread.com: 21 Fresh Food Delivery Services That Can Save You Big)
2. Reduce Waste
I like to order groceries on my phone while rummaging through and taking inventory of the contents of my fridge. That way, I only order items when I've run out and I cut down on duplicates of things I have. This reduces wasted food in the long run because I only buy what I need. It's much easier to do this when I'm able to look through my fridge instead of trying to remember what I need while at the store.
See Also on Kiplinger: Why Blue Apron Was a Bust in My Marriage
Another strategy I have is to add things to my online cart as I run low on them, which makes it easy to check out when I need them. No more running to the store to buy one thing that you forgot on your last shopping trip!
3. Enjoy Comparable Prices
I've found that, most of the time, online grocery prices are comparable to what you would pay in a regular supermarket. Sure, you will occasionally get an oddly high price, but once you know what the prices should be, you might be pleasantly surprised at how similar the prices are for delivered groceries. And when there's an extra good deal (like jars of pasta sauce for $1) you can order a a lot without having to lug all those heavy bags home yourself.
4. Waste Less Time
It takes me far longer to prowl through the aisles of a grocery store looking for a specific item than to simply type it into the search bar on my grocery delivery app. Adding things to my cart as I run low on them also saves time. Now I no longer have to block off an hour or two of time to go grocery shopping (including driving time), and I can take the kids to the park instead (where I don't get tempted to spend money). Or I could write an article in that time, and get paid!
Amazon Fresh's delivery service doesn't even require you to be home to accept the delivery. The items you order are packaged accordingly -- frozen and perishable items together in coolers with ice packs -- and arrive at your doorstep. You can choose to be home for the delivery or not, but if you know you won't be home, you can select that option while placing your order, and you can expect the delivery to be left on your doorstep during the scheduled delivery time of your choosing. You also don't have to tip the driver.
5. Meal-Plan More Efficiently
I often find that my best-laid meal plans get derailed when I arrive at the grocery store and see something else that tickles my fancy instead. If you're really into meal-planning, having your groceries delivered can help you meet those meal-planning goals. When you're setting up your menu for the week, add the groceries to your online shopping cart as you go. The bonus of shopping this way is that you can order everything you need for the week at once, making the most of the delivery fee.
6. Stay Under Budget
It's easy to check how much my total purchase is going to cost by glancing at my online cart. If I have a weekly grocery budget, this makes it far easier for me to tweak my purchases and stay under budget. If, for instance, I'm a bit over, I might buy apples instead of more expensive grapes, a head of lettuce instead of a bagged salad, or chicken thighs instead of steak. If you've ever gone to check out at the grocery store and realize that you've underestimated your purchase by $40, this is one way to avoid that.
See Also on Kiplinger: 15 Ways to Save on Groceries Without Clipping Coupons
Grocery delivery is convenient, and it can definitely save you money, but it's not magic. You still have to be vigilant about checking prices just like you would at a physical supermarket. It might take a while to figure out which delivery service works best for you. And I still do have to run to the brick-and-mortar store once in awhile, just far less often than I did before.
More From Wise Bread
- 5 Checkout Line Tricks to Finish Shopping Faster
- The Only 15 Foods That Are Worth Buying Organic
- Flashback Friday: 122 No-Fuss Dinner Ideas That'll Save You Money
- The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping
- The Produce Worker's Guide to Choosing Fruits and Vegetables
- Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco
- 10 Things That Will Soon Disappear Forever (And 7 That Refuse to Die)
- 15 Worst States to Live in During Retirement
Copyright 2017 The Kiplinger Washington Editors